Muesli based diets – new research

Our Veterinary Adviser, Richard Saunders, attended the British Small Animal Veterinary Association annual congress at the weekend, where Professor Anna Meredith revealed the findings of the feeding trial that has been carried out by the University of Edinburgh, FERA (Food and Environment Research Agency, a branch of DEFRA), and Burgess. Previous findings had shown that rabbits only fed muesli became rapidly obese, compared to those on muesli or pellet and hay diets, or hay only diets. The more recent work showed that rabbits which were fed on muesli, with or without hay, developed the first warning signs of dental disease, spent less time in active behaviours (and in some cases chewed flooring materials), and had more uneaten caecotrophs, and abnormally small faecal pellets. They also drank less water, which is an important factor in urinary tract health for rabbits. Full details will emerge as the work is published in the scientific literature, but these findings provide the first scientific proof that hay based diets, with small, carefully measured amounts of extruded pellet tailored to the needs of the pet rabbit, are better for their health than muesli based diets, with or without hay, for many reasons. Vets will be more aware now of these findings, being unveiled at a major vet conference, and aim to spread that information at Rabbit Awareness Week events throughout the country. And Pets at Home have taken the decision to remove muesli based diets from their shelves, a move which is to be welcomed, and to be hoped that other retailers will follow.